Monday, February 20, 2012

Honor Thy Father

Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Ephesians 6:1-4
I have struggled with deep, dark depressions for most of my life. Since my early years, I have been melancholy and had a hard time functioning at the same level as my peers. This means that, as an adult, I have often been living with my parents rather than on my own. I suppose having a roommate would have helped, but I never trusted anyone else enough to let them see the effects of the depression. In fact, letting my husband see the effects of my current depression fills me with shame and guilt. The only person I ever truly trusted to see me at my worst and still love me was Mama. 

Needing to be around Mama so much putting me in Daddy's orbit just as often. Living in his home came with the understanding that he could behave any way he wanted and I could like it or leave. Any rule he made was law. Any commentary he wanted to offer on my life was to be taken meekly. Any angry outbursts on his part were to be endured without fighting back. 

Seeing as this is a blog and not a book, I do not have time/space to explain to you why Daddy has always seen me as an opponent. Just know that it is true, and has been acknowledged by others close to us. Having to face an opponent when you are at your worst can never be a good thing. It never was for me. 

One interesting trait of my father's is that he talks to himself about whatever is on his mind. When he takes out his hearing aids, he talks to himself LOUDLY. This has unfortunately allowed me to hear him say some rather vile things about me in the past. And no, he really did not know I was listening.

The last few years have not been as bad. When I asked Mama and Daddy to move up to Austin with me, the dynamics changed a little. Having them come live with me instead of me coming back to them was a new situation. When I got married, Charles was totally willing to keep them in our home. He saw just as I did that they were both slowing down in their elder years and could use the help. I will never regret this, as it means that we were right there when Mama got sick and needed us. Daddy could not have handled that situation all on his own, so it was good that we were all together.

Since Mama died, Daddy and I have had to help each other more than ever before. We lost our "buffer" and have had to find our way together. For several months, I thought we were on a new path. Then in November the "old" Daddy showed back up and let me know that he still held me in some contempt. Charles almost asked Daddy to leave at that point, but we have persevered through it all til now.

Saturday morning, my father moved out of my house. We knew he was going, as we had helped him pack his belongings the night before. Usually, if Daddy is leaving early in the morning, he will tell me goodbye the night before or knock on my door in the wee hours and give me a hug. This time he left without telling me goodbye at all. He called me later to instruct me on some legal matters, but he did not mention leaving, having lived in my house these past five years, or anything sentimental. Just "do this".

Where did he go? He went to live in the house of his "first love". Her husband died two months after Mama passed. Daddy did not take the sentimental things that he had wanted in previous months to remind him of Mama. He just left them in his room for me to pack up. He did take Mama's prized possession - an oil painting of roses that my mother painted years ago - so that he can give it to his "first love". He made sure that I knew about that.

Part of me thought Daddy should have to stay here and be punished for the emotional abuse I have suffered over the years. Another part of me wanted for him to go quickly. There is another part of me that feels guilt for feeling ambivalence about Daddy because it makes my sister - who loves him dearly - uncomfortable and I hate making her feel like that. Then there is the little girl in me who so desperately wants to be "enough" to please her father. The feelings just toss and turn inside of me. This is not a situation I would wish on anyone.

So my question for the ages is this: How do I honor my father after he has provoked me to wrath? Paul did not leave any clues as to how that works. Maybe there were some children in the Ephesian church who had dealt with this type of thing. I desperately wish that they had left some tips and pointers behind for stumbling, bumbling daughters like me. 

Do you have a situation in your life that keeps you tossing around in the wind? Is there a Bible verse that addresses part of it but not all of it? How do you deal with that?


Once again I am joining up with Jen and the rest of the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood over here. Why don't you come see what the rest of the girls have going on?



  1. No easy answers, my friend. I won't pretend there are. But I'm praying for you, right in this moment. You are in my heart.

  2. This is a tough one. But, I think letting him go may be the only way left of honoring him.

    I saw a quote on Facebook earlier today that said "Sometimes when you give up on someone, it's not because you don't care any more. It's because you realize they don't."

    Just remember, you can't control anything that he does. You can only control how you react to it.

  3. I've had to take things step by step, asking God to show me specific ways of how to set safe boundaries to me that are still honoring to the other person. I've had many conversations with God that start with, "I don't feel comfortable with this, but I want to honor__________. How can I do that?" God has given me several options at different times because He wants to protect me AND be a light at the same time. Keeping plugged into God's heart is the only way I can do it. If I go off on my own, it's usually an epic fail.

  4. I am sorry that you are having to go through such a painful time in your life.

  5. Carolyn, I don't really have anything to offer right now except my love and prayers. I'm sorry it has taken me several days to read this. Love you. - Christine

  6. It took me a bit, too. Carolyn, you know what I think on this. It hasn't changed. I think you have done as much to honor him as humanly possible. Now, do what you need to do for you. Honor him as much as you feel you need (which is probably more than deserved) but if that honor is not appreciated, or even accepted, that is NOT on you. It suck and it hurts. I know I should be telling you to honor him in all things, but fathers are also not to provoke children to anger. Besides, as your friend I feel a need to protect YOU, and you don't seem to have an issue with doing too little. Taking care of yourself allows you to give more, not less, in the long run.

    This probably made no sense at all. It's jumbled up in my brain and this is how it comes out.

  7. Carolyn, I am so sorry. Nobody deserves to be treated like this. You are made in the image of God, and you are His beloved child. Remember that, and rest in it.


  8. Hi Carolyn, I am saddened to read your story but I am delighted to find your blog. Thanks so much for sharing. I am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris


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Moral support, prayers, and witty comments always appreciated.